On December 24, 2007, I received a media release from the Lakota Nation. Here is an excerpt:
Lakota Freedom delegate and Oglala Lakota Cante Tenza - Strongheart Warrior Society leader Canupa Gluha Mani (Duane Martin Sr.) issued the following statement after discussion with the Strongheart Grandmothers:
The whole Lakota declaration of withdrawal from the treaty is vested on the power of the Lakota people and our children.
When we undertook the process of announcing the withdrawal, the capacity was far greater than most people anticipated about an individual. But throughout our history, the people have never excluded anyone within our own lifeway and when it becomes a listener's view that its about one individual, one individual does not represent the Nation itself, the Nation represents the individual, and that is Lakota.
The withdrawal is for the people, the Elders, mothers, fathers, and the children.
Throughout our history and through the enforcement of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, Congress said they would oversee the provisions of 1868 (Fort Laramie Treaty), but they failed to do so. Some minor provisions were kept, but overall the treaty was not honored. Because if the treaty was honored, we would not have this colonial catastrophe of alcoholism, drug abuse and poverty and we wouldn't have the overall high incarceration rate of the male and female in the prison populations. This leads to our children being taking away by Social Services, which puts our children out of balance from learning the traditional lifeway.
When the children can reconnect with who they are, they come back to the process of knowing what is Lakota in the true point of view. In this true point of view, Lakota is about being free and left alone, so we can govern and save our own with the teachings of the Animal Nations. (Reprinted with permission from Naomi Archer, Communications Liaison)
The struggle is for the freedom of a people who have been systematically slaughtered, subjugated, and extorted since America’s beginnings. They are now declaring that they will take it no longer. The Lakota hit rock bottom, and are coming up fighting.
Shortly after receiving the media release, I interviewed Canupa Gluha Mani, who was instrumental in initiating this movement. Canupa Gluha Mani is an individual who believes that “a nation is never at its best when elders and children are not included.” He spoke to me in Lakota, which translated is: “In the future, when you stand, your people, do not forget about them.” We spoke about how America has forgotten about its elders and children, just as it has forgotten about the native population it subjugated and tried to destroy. The Lakota nation has not forgotten. Canupa Gluha Mani’s grandfather used to say, “ When you remove a people from the forest, the people of the forest become unknown. What becomes unknown, you want to destroy.” This profound truth has guided Canupa Gluha Mani throughout his life, and directs his path towards truth and fulfillment for his nation. This truth has also given him a unique understanding regarding why his people are “the only human race not allowed to sit on the council of nations. That is genocide.” The American Indian has been subjected to a systematic pogrom of genocide ever since the white man set foot in America.
Canupa Gluha Mani spoke about how the United States government has not kept its promises to the Indian people. "If you give an oath, stand in it" (Canupa Gluha Mani). These broken promises are the impetus for secession from the U.S. The treaties were not honored. Promises were broken.
He also spoke about healing, and how this withdrawal from the United States is actually a step towards healing. This healing is not for the Lakota tribe only, but for all nations, and he told me that he hopes that this movement will be a blueprint for other Indian nations to follow.
We spoke about Turtle Island:
The legend of Turtle Island as Told by WalkingBear:
Long ago when animals talked and people did not, all people lived on Turtle Island. Each, while different was the same.
The Creator came to Turtle Island and said to the people: You are to divide into groups and go off in different directions. Each group will go through the cycles of time apart from the others.
There will come a time when you will come back together, form the sacred circle and share what you've learned while apart, and there will be a time of cooperation, peace and prosperity.
The group that went off to the East became known as the red race and the medicine wheel is painted red on that side. This group was given care of Mother Earth and all the animals and plants found there.
The group that went off to the South became known as the yellow race and the medicine wheel is painted yellow at the bottom. This group was given care of the air and all the birds found there.
The group that went off to the West became known as the black race and the medicine wheel is painted black on that side. This group was given care of the waters and the seas and all life found there.
The group that went off to the North became known as the white race, and the medicine wheel is painted white at the top. This group was given care of fire, which in time became mathematics and science.
Each group was given the additional responsibility of remembering in their hearts that all men are brothers, that there is but one race.
While going through the cycles of time apart, the people learned to speak each in their own way, and in so doing they almost forgot that they had once all been alike. Many came to think of each other as strangers.
We've learned much while apart and as the Creator promised, we are sharing what we've learned. In so doing, we're coming back together. We're remembering who we are.
Those who would keep us apart have yet to learn that neither heat nor light is lost from sharing the camp fire. That when all people join the sacred circle we will have returned to Turtle Island and there will be Peace and Prosperity. As our Lakota Brothers say: "Mitakuye Oyasin" (We are all relatives).
“Now that we are through from the treaties, Turtle Island has become one big Indian reservation, which includes everyone that is living here” (Canupa Glupa Mani).
The Lakota people have taken a big step towards healing their nation, as well as the entire American nation. I stand in awe of this brave people who are doing what most just talk about. Canupa Glupa Mani ended our conversation with this note: “We will speak again.” Keep pushing forward, my brother. I am with you in the return to Turtle Island.
Copyright 2007, Barbara H. Peterson